After a wonderful season watching the Riverside Hawks, I'm going to take a break from what had become an almost daily routine of hawk watching.
After exploring more of the damage in the North Woods this afternoon, I ventured over to Riverside Park followed by the middle of Central Park.
I found two hawks. One was on top of the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Monument at 89th and Riverside Drive. This is likely the Adult Hawk (young, light eyed) Lincoln Karim had seen earlier in the week. (The hawk flew off before I got around the monument, so I didn't get a chance to see its tail and confirm it was an adult.)
After visiting Riverside Park, I went back to Central Park and saw either Pale Male or Lola in their favorite late afternoon tree on the Great Lawn. The lawn was closed due to the wet weather we've been having, so I didn't get to see the hawk up close and get a positive I.D.
Tonight, we heard both of the North Woods Eastern Screech-Owls loud and clear. The female called loudly and the male answered. It was great have confirmation that they had both survived the storm.
I took some more pictures of the storm damage. Although lots of trees were lost, luckily they were scattered throughout the North Woods. Once the damaged trees are removed the park will not look too scarred.
Doug Blonsky, the President of the Central Park Conservancy has issued an appeal for funds to help with the clean up. Details are on Marie Winn's blog.
The intense thunderstorm on Tuesday night did an incredible amout of damage to the trees in the North Woods. The trees on the Great Hill seemed to be the worst hit.
Bedrock is near the surface throughout much of the park and many trees have very shallow root systems. A few of the trees used by the Eastern Screech-Owls were hurt including a large tree used by last year's fledglings to roost in almost all summer. A large number of trees used by raccoons also fell, including a favorite I call the Keebler Elf tree, since at times more than six raccoons lived in the base of the tree which was hollow.
I only had my long telephoto with me today, so I had to take photos of the damage with my iPhone at dusk. These few pictures show only a fraction of the damage.
At dusk, we only saw glimpses of owls, so there are no photographs. We viewed one gliding down to a standard post-fly out preening area, and one near a rustic bridge. It would have been nice to know for sure, that both had survived the storm, but knowing that at least one made it was positive news.
The Riverside Park fledgling has returned to its old haunts around the 83rd Street playground and nearby buildings on Riverside Drive. It was great to see the fledgling again, who looked healthy and well fed.
The father was also nearby for much of the evening. The fledgling ended up on a few high buildings, but eventually fell asleep in a tree just outside the park on Riverside Drive.
Where the fledgling has been the last ten days remains a mystery!
(In addition to the normal playground, traffic and jet noise on the video, if you listen closely you'll hear the calling sounds of male cicadas.)
I've been busy with work since getting back from Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, and haven't done much birding in the last two weeks.
Today, I spend an hour in the North Woods. It was just the right amount of time in the heat. The wildflower meadow was quiet, without a fall migrant in sight. The same for The Loch, lots of American Robins and Gray Catbirds, but nothing unusual.
So, the highlight of the day was a photogenic Monarch Butterfly and the North Wood's Red-phased Eastern Screech-Owl.
I've been by Riverside Park a few times over the last week, but haven't seen the fledgling since the 4th of August. I suspect that the fledgling is exploring and is somewhere in a twenty block radius of the nest. Any news of sightings would be appreciated.
Update: August 17th, 2009. Pam Langford was kind enough to send me an email saying that the fledgling was near the 83rd Street Playground on the evening of Sunday the 16th. It was nice to hear the fledgling was doing fine.
I spent about eight hours trying to see a Yellowstone Gray Wolf, and finally did for about 30 seconds. I only ended up with one fuzzy picture but it was worth it.
Wolves were reintroduced to the Yellowstone in 1995, and have generated interest with the general public since then.
The "wolfers", are a die hard group of wolf watchers. Spending a few mornings and afternoons with them, reminded me of what hawk watching is like in New York. The group had the same spectrum of individuals as the New York hawk watchers, hard-core scientific experts, addicted animal lovers, and casual watchers. Many of the wolfers plan their Yellowstone vacations around wolf watching or live and/or work in surrounding areas and spend evenings or weekends in the park looking for wolves.
The wolfers have a network, just like the hawk watchers too. They use radios and the internet to communicate about sightings and keep in touch with each other.
Below are pictures of a morning wolf watching.
I got to see three different pairs of Sandhill Cranes in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons but photographing them wasn't easy. Here are the best photographs I had. They had a wonderfully prehistoric sounding call.
Yellowstone Pronghorn were easily spotted on my trip in two valleys, the Hayden and the Lamar. They're sometimes called Antelope. They're known for their great eyesight and quick speed.
American White Pelicans were numerous along the Yellowstone and Snake Rivers. This was yet another species I was familiar with from visits to Florida, that I didn't expect to see in Wyoming. I guess salt water or fresh water doesn't matter as long as their are fish to eat.
Watching nature is about being in the right time at the right place. But sometimes getting up early to see one thing yields another. This was the case with this Yellowstone Coyote. I had gotten up before dawn to see wolves, but instead got to see this frisky Coyote near Canyon Village.
I got to see a few Black Bears (which come in every shade from blond to brown to black) and a few Grizzly Bears while in Yellowstone. (For anyone worried about my safety, all of these were taken with a 500mm lens from across a ridge across a river or safely from near a car.)
Tonight, only the fledgling's mother could be found. Nothing to worry about, it's common to have troubles finding a fledgling in August.
A new bird for my life list, was a Harlequin Duck found on a rock in the rapids of the Yellowstone River. The sex of this bird was a female. There was no sign of the much more richly colored male unfortunately.
I had spent an afternoon looking for an American Dipper (also known as the Water Ouzel) in Yosemite National Park, without success earlier this year. In Yellowstone, I saw one on my first hike, without even trying!
The bird, which fishes in mountain streams, was the subject of a chapter in John Meir's The Mountains of California. John Heir's writings helped create Yosemite National Park.
Bald Eagles were easy to find in the Lamar Valley and along the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park and in Grand Teton National Park along the Snake River.
For someone who is used to having to brave cold winter weather up in Croton-on-Hudson to see Eagles, viewing them in summer weather was a joy.
The North Woods Eastern Screech-Owl pair was briefly seen last night. Both owls look great.
While we were watching them a photographer with a flashlight and high-powered flash was also in the North Woods looking for owls. I must recommend to anyone who wants to study owls in the North Woods, that this is not an effective approach to finding them or photographing them.
To watch owls in Central Park and really get to know them, and you have to be as non-intrusive as possible. If you're quiet, keep your distance, move slowly, photograph without flash and take the time to learn their habits, these owls will share their lives with you.
Yellowstone Bison were easy to find in the Hayden and Lamar Valleys. I had two close encounters with the Bison.
While driving back to the hotel after dark, a Bison walked out into the road, forcing me to swerve into the oncoming lane of the two lane road. Everyone was safe, but it was a close call. It was one of those events that you end up responding to using pure reflex, and end up going over and over again in your head as you fall asleep.
The other encounter was a fun one. While crossing the Yellowstone River bridge into Lamar Valley, a few Bison were blocking the road, so I stopped. While waiting, the few Bison became a herd, who then all crossed the bridge. The bridge shook from all the weight and the Bison herd surrounded my car. It was fantastic to be so up close to the herd from the safety of a car.
Some cute Yellowbelly Marmots from Yellowstone. These animals live in colonies and are about 24 inches long.
We saw River Otters twice on our trip, at Trout Lake in Yellowstone, and at Oxbow Bend in the Grand Teton National Park. They are some of the cutest and most playful animals I've ever seen.
It was hot and humid at Riverside on Tuesday evening. The parents were hanging out north of the Boat Basin cafe and along the parkway. The fledgling was difficult to find, but showed up in and around the playground area later in the evening.
One of the great surprises of my trip to Yellowstone was to find an Osprey Nest in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone at over 7,000 feet of elevation. I'm so used to seeing Osprey on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in the Northeast and in Florida, I never thought they would be so high in Yellowstone fishing and breeding in a canyon.
The Riverside Drive fledgling is really doing well at flying high. On Monday evening, the fledgling flew to a building at 75th and Riverside Drive. It got harassed by an American Kestrel and flew to another building roof. Later, it flew back to its normal hunting grounds and caught a rat, which it eat on a tree limb above the playground. (The video includes pictures of the rat being eaten.)
I had a great vacation in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. At Oxbow Bend on the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park was a very cute Beaver who was very active at dusk.
I'll be posting more images from my trip throughout the week. Sorry for the off topic posts, but I had fun out west!
During the week I was away the flegling learned to fly high along Riverside Drive exploring buildings from the 70's through the 100's. Today, when I caught up with the fledgling, I discovered that it had learned to perch on street lights, just like its parents.